Storing Lightning Energy?

Hey Guys,

I have wondered on this from a long time. Can lightning energy be stored? Lightning occurs when water droplets rub together right? Which means this is static electricity. As lightning strike the highest point why dont they make a huge conductive bar? And as i know from the various lyden jar projects storing static isnt that difficult. So why dont they do it? I asked my dad  that how much is it per lightning strike he said millions of kilovolts if that is true then why dont they store it? My dad said that its because they cant store that much electricity. Is that the only reason? BTW I'm 12 so please ignore my dumb electric knowledge :).

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iceng2 years ago

Lightning is typically 100 million Volts and 30,000 Amperes

I biggest capacitor know of is only 100 thousand Volts and less then a single uF, could not absorb ( store ) a millionth of a lightning strike and never handle the voltage !

Study this lead

There are hobbyists that run static motors using kites because our calm atmosphere has a 30 volt per foot increase as you rise up from the ground .

-max- iceng2 years ago

Though doesn't the voltage drop as the fork lighting travel? It might be possible to store a very small amount of the energy in a huge capacitor bank with a spark gap shunt protector to prevent the voltage from being too high. Obviously this would be extremely dangerous (many hundred uF at several thousand volts) and not practical, but it is something I have always wondered about too.

iceng -max-2 years ago

I am NO theoretical EE but a practical one that builds and enjoys using those things that work. I do have a wealth of failures to guide me and the safety they represent to my survival of new construct of energy gathering trials.

I am inclined to peruse inductive coupling shielded by electro-static-foil to safely direct near hits to where they really want to go

( a 3' copper bearing ground rod ) ...

Storing energy, batteries are so limited that you can expect hydrogenation to rapidly form a very neat gas explosion.

I wonder if sodium-chloride could take a rapid energy surge to liquify especially if the approach of a T-storm would give enough time to melt a thin strand of salt to allow energetic plasma a conduction path to grow and expand with.

Then thermal energy to boiling water conversion using conventional steam generators to power the local grid makes sense to capture lightning as a first try.

What capture theories do you prefer the most ?

-max- iceng2 years ago

Creating instant steam and pressure does not sound like a horrible idea though... Thats something to think about.

-max- iceng2 years ago

I am also a practical guy, no need to write a whole page to make that clear. I simply asked if that would be feasible, no need to get so defensive. Regardless like I said, it is something that I wonder if it is possible.

iceng -max-2 years ago

By the way in my storm chasing youngster days... I got close enough in in Chevy to see a road milepost melt to the ground and the lightning strokes did strobe stop my windshield wipers in 5 places. That is why I prefer inductive coupling over other methods of harvesting plasma from above.

Anything that can vaporize cold rolled steel, will destroy a 100 thousand volt capacitor of any microfarad known made capacitor in 5 hits for sure.

iceng iceng2 years ago

BTW lightning is a plasma that has a temperature of several thousand degrees in the fraction of a second that it exists..

shahryar.adil.3 (author)  iceng2 years ago

So why dont they store as much as they can and ground the rest?

In some cases that has been done but no one has successfully made a million volt switch let alone a 100,000,000 volt switch.

Got to eat now but want to tell you lots more later ..

iceng iceng2 years ago

There was one incident where a lightning ball quenched in a rain barrel,
and the water temperature was measured shortly afterwards. The amount
of energy contained in a lightning ball is variable and not well
quantified, but it is estimated to range from about 102 to 108 joules.

I enjoy seeking fulgurites caused by that plasmic energy dispersing into sandy soil when I can visually spot a strike touch down on public land.

iceng2 years ago

To be practical, I would want to attract lightning to my desired spot again and again.

Perhaps the technique of ionizing a simple air laser ion trail to the charge bearing sky cloud for the main burst to follow down would work as well as the Army plasma-channel.

I certainly would not want to shoot expensive rockets trailing conductive wire into clouds and hope a one in ten could initiate discharge strike.

Maybe someone doing this would comment ?

iceng2 years ago

Just heard the Deli Lama said there are only two days when nothing can be done.

One is yesterday and the other is tomorrow..

iceng2 years ago

Reeling in an antenna about 200 turns on a 4" diameter gave me a sit down shock from a nearby strike about a 1/4 mile away.

I believe this inductive energy transfer can be raised and safety to survive a direct strike, If I get a best answer here we can continue engineering this direction for storage.

Kiteman2 years ago

You cannot store the energy of an actual lightning strike (see all the other answers, plus this financial analysis:

However, it may be possible to harvest the charge before it builds up to lightning levels, and that is a slowly-growing area of research. However, a lot of the research is a bit woowoo, via badly-interpreted ideas about Tesla's work. Have yourself a google, but try and avoid any sites that claim the energy is free...

Short and sweet answer, we do not have the technology.

It can be done theoretically but we just don't have the superconductors or the super insolite to make the capacitors capable of capturing that much heat, and there is a lot of heat in lightning.

Remember air is an insolite and lightning passes through hundreds of feet of it.

verence2 years ago

See here :

In short; Yes, there is a lot of energy in a lightning, but:

a) thunderstorms are sporadic and lightnings strike randomly, so the collector structure would either have to be very big (i.e. expensive) or not collect much

b) as a lot of energy strikes in a very short time, the whole construction has to very tough (i.e. expensive)

c) not all of the lightning's energy could be collected anyway.

So you'd need a giant, expensive and probably ugly structure to maybe collect some energy. Not a good return on investment.